James Fella

Salvaged Tapes
(C-Salt/Gilgongo Records)

Patchwork tapestries glued together from trash, cityscapes made out of discarded glass bottles, and junk mail assembled into fancy wall collages are just some of the scavenger exhibits you may find at your local contemporary art gallery. While it's a hot trend in visual art, the hunter-gatherer/assemblage spirit hasn't caught on too much in music. That changes with Salvaged Tapes, a release by Tempe-based, do-everything audio wizard James Fella, who pieces together a weirdly beautiful and strangely serene 21-minute composition from about 25 discarded cassette tapes. There's definitely a priority on noise, with quick-hitting passages of ambient guitar loops and such naturalist sounds as chirping birds thrown in the mix. At one point, a percussion instrument groove transitions into sounds recorded in a traveling car with the windows down or in a wind tunnel, followed by a lo-fi orchestra of stringed instruments and horns that sound like they're in pain. Possibly the most surprising element is the absence of voices, though when they do appear, they sound alien (is that a guy trying to sing a homemade love song to his girl, perhaps?). It's times like these, when we can't really tell what's going on, that makes this beautifully compiled album so great. Salvaged Tapes is packaged in a visually striking DVD case wrapped with fugitive cassette tape.

 
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